2013 revisited

Now that we have nothing but time on our hands, I'm hoping some fellow board members can help me out.

I've seen the sentiment expressed repeatedly that our trip to the Grey Cup in 2013 was not very impressive because we emerged from a weak Eastern division. We beat Montreal on a cold wet day in Guelph, and then Toronto on a warm dry day at the dome. Some Ticats fans say "big deal." So I wanted to remind everyone of a few things:

  • Toronto, at 11-7, were tied for second-best record in the league. They were also the defending Grey Cup champions, playing at home on two weeks' rest.

  • Ricky Ray has recently reminded us that he is one of the best clutch QBs in the history of the CFL. That season, though he was injured for part of it and played in only 10 games, he was arguably at the top of his game. He completed 77% of his passes (which may still be a pro football record) and threw 21 TDs to 2 interceptions. He was the CFL's all-star QB and the eastern nominee for MOP. This is the man that cannot be beaten in Grey Cups, but he was beaten by us in the Eastern Final.

  • It was Austin's first year as head coach, following a 2012 season in which we finished dead last in the league with a dreadfully poor defence. He shaped the team on the fly due to a combination of injuries and ongoing evaluations, setting a record for number of active players during a season. All while facing at least some difficulty due to not having a home stadium.

My question: In light of the above, can someone please explain to me once again why that year's team and coach do not deserve praise for getting to the big show for the first time this century?

(Note: this is not a defence of 2016 or 2017 performance. I just get prickly when people try to discredit some of the few positive achievements of our team in recent years.)

Thanks in advance.

Because it was Burris not Collaros. Another mistake Austin made. He was too stubborn to stick with Burris and he went on to make us look stupid by winning a Grey Cup with Ottawa.

We committed too much money to Collaros and nothing (absolutely nothing) positive happened after that grey cup game.

That season set us in a downward spiral that only June Jones and Jeremiah Masoli can recover us from. But not until Austin is fired.

Crash I agree 100% Should have gone after Ed Hervey.

You simply cannot understand sarcasm.

Did you completely forget the 2014 Grey Cup and the incredible start to the 2015 season before Zach tore his ACL? Or does your hatred for one man totally blind you to the positive things that this team has done?

Wow hate is a pretty strong word to use. Perhaps a word that you would use on a regular basis. I agree with another poster and you feel the need attack me. Nonetheless, I have stated my reasons why Austin should be fired. I am sure I don't need to list my reasons why unless you want me to.

If you actually agree with everything I wrote.... then oh boy.


Wasnt that the year Hervey publicly humiliated his team and simeon rottier in particular through the media. The same media he barred from the locker room and tried to blame Maas for it last week, you know, the stuff good GMs do?

Meanwhile Austin is trying to keep a team together during school bus trips to a glorified high school stadium in Guelph ?

Crash: If I didn't know you, I might have believed you meant what you wrote, as it is not far off from views that have been expressed in the past.

I'm still waiting for someone to take the bait (free of sarcasm/satire) and repeat their claims from recent months that Ricky Ray is easy to beat in the post-season.

It was Austin's first year and alot of the new players were starting to buy in. He also had very competent co-ordinators in 2013. Notice how the wheels fell off since their departure.

The playoff game against Montreal might have turned out different if the Cats were called for PI on that contreversial play. Also they were going nowhere fast until that late game drive that Burris engineered. They won but not overly convincing since it was a post-Calvillo Als with unproven QBs.

Austin did what many other eastern teams accomplish. Get hot in the back half of a mediocre season and find themselves in Grey Cup. The following year was similar.

Unfortunately, the Cats were never really the class of the league during Austin's 5 years, except during the pre-Zach injury 2015 season. Sure Austin snuck us into a couple of Cup appearances but his mismanagement in other crucial areas has regressed the team and his type of leadership is not a sustainable option for the Cats going forward.

I think you are missing the point of most of the criticism being directed at Austin. The majority of it is based on the Caretaker calling Austin one of the best CFL coaches of all time, which is simply put is categorically false. Austin has one ring as a head coach in Saskatchewan and a couple showings to the big game. His accomplishments pale in comparison to the likes of Trestman, Huff and Wally and various staffs they had.

Let me first qualify my response by saying, yes. Kent does deserve praise for getting us to a Grey Cup twice. His first season, he loaded the team up during the preseason with a swatch of talent, he overcame a stadium issue (in my view, caused partly by management), he took a team that was last in the league and found a way to get it done and get it to the Grey Cup twice.

That said, to say he moved mountains is not fair either, and his accomplishments in my eyes don't overcome his recent failures.

  • We squeaked past Montreal in a game which many say, literally caused the new challengable PI rules we see today.

  • Toronto was tied for second best in the league with two other teams. They finished good enough for last in the West, but once again mediocre cuts it in the east.

  • As great as Ricky Ray was, we had Henry Burris, also a future hall of fame QB that Kent inherited (and we later cut, but that's a different discussion)

  • Yes, had a dreadful defence, dynamite offence. We had the most points for in the league and a overwhelming glut of good receivers.

  • Not once with Hamilton did Austin finish top of the league, or produce even a 12-6 record in a long mediocre east division. Both his Grey Cup appearances his record was good enough for 4th in the West. That's not resounding success. It's good (more specifically good enough) but the stuff of legends it is not (especially when you can't punctuate the appearances with a win).

Getting back to the more important point though

Despite his performances in the past, he equally deserves scorn for his role in the consistent decline the team has suffered since 2014. A slightly above average performance, followed by a bellow average performance and then this dumpster fire of a season. To be even further fair, it's not even Austin necessarily who deserves it. It's the management staff as a whole, of whom Austin is part of and is seemingly the head of (save for Scott Mitchell). How much scorn? Well it's hard to say, but you can't tell me this season was all Jeff Reinbold's fault, and no one else has been let go.

Bad salary decisions (which also resulted in us trading away CJ Gable and John Chick), haemorrhaging coaches in incredibly short order, losing marquee receivers over the last few seasons, starting import rookie linemen, being completely inactive during free agency, having twice as many rookie or sophomore players then most other teams, not identifying rookie talent early in the season (like we did in 2013), producing a similar offence to previous years uncatered to our personnel losses and outright bad play calling. Couple that with previous unbecoming behaviour on the sidelines, a contentious relationship with the media, players sounding off to the media about him (also remember Hank making the dig at us after he won the cup), and whatever role he/management played in the Art Briles hiring attempt (which was as brain dead as it was revolting). It all screams managerial failure.

Yet somehow, no one, not Mitchell, not Tillman, not Kent, not Burke, not Allenmang, not even Ptasek who has outright said he's looking for another job, and no one has been released. Yet somehow we are treating the staff that didn't produce as untouchable, despite the simple fact that other teams have cleaned house far quicker, for far fewer failings, and have generally been better for it as a result.

One needs only look at the Argos winning the Grey Cups twice after an immediate house cleaning (once after Rita and Andrus and again with Milanovich and Barker), Edmonton winning a cup shortly after cleaning house (Tillman and Reed) and Saskatchewan nearly beating the Argos to get there this season (after a championship staff didn't produce). Also after a house cleaning, the Bombers are back in contention and the RedBlacks winning a cup in their third year.

This league has far too much player talent and parity to tolerate a staff that doesn't produce, doesn't retain successful team elements and engages in off field controversy.

Burris was almost 40, did not have a very impressive showing in the MOST important game of the season in 2013.

Tiger cats would need to move on to a younger quarterback. Collaros WAS most impressive in his games with Toronto that same year. And was a free agent. There were not many quarterbacks available at the time.

Kent Austin chose to sign Collaros and release Burris.

Burris followed that with a stay in Ottawa that led him to be benched and he even lashed out on national television against all who had justifiably criticized his play.

Yes, Ottawa won a Grey cup. Not sure if it was a case of the RB's playing that well or Calgary underestimating the situation.

Interesting that when those who disagree with Kent Austin's decisions call him "Stubborn".

You forget how bad Burris made us look in the 2013 Grey Cup.

You also forget about how well Collaros and the team performed in the 2014 Grey cup, as they came within ONE PLAY of winning it.

Then followed that up with an amazing showing in the first half of the following season, until his injury.

Did you forget...or is this a case of selective memory.

Hammer well said. I hope my friend Crash will read this post. As far as announcements from the Tiger Cats today, June Jones is expected to extend his contract as head coach and hopefully there will be other news of managerial changes.

Hammer, I have to agree with you, except for the first half of 2015 was great; I do hold Austin for not having a running game and a comptent back up to Collaros.
As for 2013, Kent did a lot of good things, I believe we did get a little lucky with a missed PI call against Montreal and our friend Rob Ford's coming in half way and unintentionally taking the wind out of the Argos sails in the final, helped us.
As for the GC, we were simply not ready for the -35 degree weather and the sea of green.
Kent having played and coached in Regina should have prepared us better; we were simply happy to be there; as we had crappy teams for 13 years by this time.
(Patience has not been a virtue for Ticats fans- as it has got us no where)

Happy to be there is not enough in my eyes. This franchise needs to raise the bar much higher if they expect to compete for the grey cup in 2018.

A couple points on agreeing with this statement...
Nobody would have beat Saskatchewan in that Grey Cup in 2013.
We had a chance to learn from that experience and go back and win the next year and maybe more with that team nucleus. In 2014 Grey Cup we couldn't get the job done on offence to win the big one and then it has been trending down ever since. Also going 6-4 in the last 10 games does not make for a successful season, we were still 6 - 12 this year, don't forget that. Everyone seems to be happy with our finish and letting this management team off the hook for start of the season. I paid to watch at least 10 exhibition games this year. The saving grace for my entertainment dollar was June Jones's attitude turn around and the increased excitement of this offence towards the end of the year.

I'm not good enough at portraying my sarcasm apparently.

Guess I asked for those responses.

Those that know me around here know that post was pretty much the opposite of how I feel about 2013.

Burris is another discussion, that really doesn't factor into Kent that much, apart from the fact that Kent inherited a Hall of Fame QB in 2013 (which I'm sorry, but having a Hall of Fame QB makes your job as a coach a lot easier) and released him the next season for justifiable reasons.

Hank was a great QB, but he was nearly a 40 year old QB without a lot of gas left in the tank, especially given that he retired 3 seasons later.You needed to start developing a new QB at some point, and a QB that performed as well as Zach doesn't come around every day.

Releasing Hank for Zach was not a bad move at the time. There is no damnation of Austin based on that. What is damning of Austin is what we ended up paying Zach. Initially when we got him from Toronto, he was making a reasonable salary for a top prospect with game day experience. Then he took us to the Grey Cup, and got an MCL tear and paid him more then proven hall of fame QBs which was a mistake.It's not like no one saw this could happen.


Make no mistake, I truly believe Zach was, is and will be a great QB if he says healthy and can get a new lease on the field with another team. However, to pay him a hall of fame QB salary without a Grey Cup ring, after coming off a major injury simply put was a mistake, and to not give that asset the tools to succeed (IE: Vet receivers, a good offensive tackles, a mixed rushing attack to compensate for missing personnel) magnified that mistake substantially.

Contracts in the CFL are not guaranteed.

I have no problem with the contract because if Zach plays to potential he's worth the contract and more (considering the cap moderately increases from time to time).

If he doesn't play well you cut him. Which is where we are now. The problem in all honesty is the fans that want to have their cake and eat it too. Some wanted Zach benched as a result of the first 8 games of the season... But still feel entitled to keep him around because well "we just don't know."

We all know what Zach can do - he has hall of fame potential and ability. With coach Jones back there's no room for Zach anyways. Time to let him move on. Hopefully he goes to Toronto and lights it up. Hopefully coach Jones and Masoli light it up. The league is more fun when both us and Toronto are good.

What I won't accept is those that say "wish he played this well for us" if he lights it up. I'll call out each and every one of those posts if/when it happens. Anyone that has watched football for a period of time knows Zach isn't done.

The problem there is that it's not as simple as "Well, we can always cut him" for several reasons.

First off, you can't exactly make good signings during free agency with money you are expecting to be tied up with other players. Taking garden sheers to your roster at the end of the season going into the playoffs is a recipe for disaster, and generally you can only trade guys who you would want to keep. Overpaying a player hinders your ability to attract the retain other players, regardless of if he later gets cut. The fact we tied up so much in Zach was a foreseeable mistake, and even more so when we didn't give him the same top receivers he used to have.

Second, a player of Zach's caliber will get snatched up the second he hits the open market for less money then he is making now. You can't just cut him because you are giving other teams a key component to turning a franchise around, pretty much for free. There is little question that if a release happens, another team will pick him up for a price closer to his actual worth. You need to get something back out of that asset, which leads us to the third issue.

Third, by negotiating that high a salary, you've also made it very difficult to trade him. A team like Toronto who has a good but aging Quarterback can't afford to pay two hall of fame QB salaries. That pretty much limits your trade options to the most desperate of teams (IE: Montreal).

Wholly agree with this. Lets also forget of those last 10 games, two of those wins were vs Montreal who are in a state of collapse, the other three were against the next three worst teams in the league and two of them were immediately avenged upon us and the last was a 1 point squeaker against BC. The only win of substance was against Winnipeg.

You've taken the patient from critical condition to (hopefully) stable, he's still in the hospital though. We've gone from terrible to adequate and it's earned rope for Jones, not vindication of management.\